Students Taking Charge of Their Learning

ISTE Standard 2 for teachers addresses designing and developing digital-age learning experiences and assessments. It focuses on customizing learning activities, using multiple and varied assessments, learning experiences that incorporate digital resources to promote learning and creativity, and environments that enable students to pursue their individual curiosities (ISTE, 2015). For this standard, I focused a lot on customizing education for each student as well as letting students become active participants in their own educational goals, and asked this question:

What technological resources are available to me to incorporate into my classroom that elementary students can use to become individual or collaborative producers of knowledge of their own choosing, including topic, project type, and form of assessment?

Initially, my question involved mostly just personalizing education for each student. I did some research on ways to incorporate this into my classroom, including project-based-learning (PBL), and a beta program called Knewton. However, after reading the articles for the standard this unit, I became more interested in how I could help my students become knowledge producers rather than knowledge consumers (Porter, 2010). I had a few ideas, but the one I thought fitted my question more was an idea I got from the Orlando (2011) article on using Wikipedia in the classroom. Though I didn’t necessarily want to use Wikipedia specifically, I really liked the concept of having students publish something on a topic of their choice, which people can then read. For younger students, I thought it would be more appropriate for them to have a more personalized class wiki, and so for my resource I chose Wikispaces.

wikispaces

In my future classroom, I would like to have my students access our class wiki on a regular basis. They would be able to write or create digital projects and post these within the wiki, and as a teacher I would also have access to each of their projects. I would also give choices on how students would like to complete certain projects, and also how they would like to be assessed. This way, they can use the knowledge they have to create their own goals, and they also were able to choose their own form of learning so they can discover what works best for them. Obviously, if something wasn’t working well for a student, then we would have to discuss a new method, but I think that giving students the choice in the first place allows them to feel more in control. A member of my learning circle, Jack, provided me with some interesting ideas on where to look for ideas about what to do with Wikis. I understand a little bit about how I could use them, but this is definitely a resource I need to explore a bit more. There are lots of different ways to use Wikis in the class, and I am excited to try them out!

ISTE (2015). ISTE standards: Teachers. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs/20-14_ISTE_Standards-T_PDF.pdf

Orlando, J. (2011). Wikipedia in the Classroom: Tips for effective use. Teaching with Technology: Tools and strategies to improve student learning. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/wikipedia-in-the-classroom-tips-for-effective-use/

Porter, B. (2010). Where’s the beef? Adding rigor to student digital products. Learning and Leading with Technology. Retrieved from http://digitales.us/sites/default/files/Wheres-the-Beef-ISTE.pdf

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Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standard 1 for teachers states that teachers should “use their knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity, and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments” (ISTE, 2015). This means that teachers should model creative and innovative thinking, they should promote student reflection, use digital tools and resources to engage students in real-world issues, and model knowledge construction (ISTE, 2015). This standard also aligns with HOPE principle P4, practice the integration of appropriate technology with instruction. As a teacher in a society that is continually advancing, providing opportunities for students to experience technology in a way that promotes creativity and learning is vital.

While exploring ISTE standard 1 and the materials for this week, I grew curious about the technologies available for language arts and literacy lessons. Since I hope to teach fourth grade, I examined the Common Core State Standards for fourth grade writing standards, and asked the question:

How can I use technology to help 4th grade students create a real or imagined narrative with dialogue, description, and a sequence of events?

My main concern with asking this question is that I would have a difficult time finding a resource specifically designed for creating stories with description, dialogue, and event sequencing, three standards outlined by the Common Core. Rather than searching for this specifically, I determined that it is more beneficial for teachers to use resources at their disposal in order to encourage ideas and reflection, then take those ideas and help students translate them into writing. I have also noticed that for many students, writing does not come naturally. With this in mind, I asked a new question:

How can I use technology to help 4th grade students generate and record ideas in a way that suits their learning style, then use these ideas to create a real or imagined narratives?

My first thought was for a daily journal. Students could record ideas and thoughts based on several writing prompts provided by the teacher. These prompts could range from questions about students’ weekends, to invented dialogue, or providing photos for students to describe. However, keeping journals on paper only allows for students to write or draw their ideas, despite the fact that many may struggle with this. So I began searching for web resources that incorporated a variety of ways to record journal entries, and came up with several possibilities. Ideally, schools would have unlimited resources for technology, and would be able to include handheld devices such as iPads or personal computers for each student while in school. However, as a member of my learning circle pointed out, there is this idea of the “digital divide”, which describes the disparity between students (or schools) with access to technology and the internet, and those who do not have it. Keeping this in mind, I conducted my research for affluent schools, and for schools with limited resources.

One resource that allows students to record their voice, record and upload video, upload photos and drawings, and also research in-app and write ideas, was Glogster. The app can be free, or there is a paid app for schools (or website), allowing classrooms to create digital media posters called glogs either individually or in groups. The teacher has access to all glogs in his or her classroom, and can provide feedback for students, while also assessing where each student is at. I experimented with Glogster a bit and created my own poster, which can be seen by clicking on the image.

Meghan's Glog Example

Jack Marshall, one of my learning circle members, suggested that Glogster be used as a graphic organizer, and I think this is a wonderful idea. Students could “conduct their research [and] add pertinent information onto the board and then have everything in one place as they prepare to write their papers” (Marshall, 2015). The access to the web in-app also allows students to engage in exploring real-world issues which they can then write about, which is part of ISTE standard 1. Another classmate, Kate Thibault (2015), posted an article about tech tools in young classrooms, which described word processing programs that don’t involve fine-motor skills and can make the physical act of writing less frustrating. Although this was meant for younger children, I believe I could also adapt it for older children who struggle with putting their ideas to words on paper.

One potential issue with ISTE standard 1 that several of my classmates expressed was that using technology in class can provide a distraction for students. Since Glogster can be somewhat distracting for students (access to YouTube, internet images, the ability to add stickers and clipart), another possible direction for online journals is a blog. Dr. Wicks mentioned edublogs as a safe and secure place to keep these. Recordings can be created and uploaded for free online for students who like to speak their ideas, and drawings can be photographed or scanned as well. Having individual blogs also allows students to collaborate in their writing and constructing of knowledge. For schools with fewer resources, in-class journals are still an option. Students who have an easier time expressing ideas through speech may benefit from an inexpensive voice recorder, which teachers could teach them to use and transcribe. Amazon has some recorders at a variety of reasonable prices.

In my classroom, I hope to incorporate as much technology as I am able, though obviously I may be restricted by budget or time, or support. However, students today are using so many resources ranging from wikis to social media to podcasts and blogs. They are “using them in an ever increasing pace and in ways that are helping to define a new generation of not just information gathering, but information-creating as well” (Robin, 2008). Because of the increasing technological resources and interest in digitization, as well as ease of access, it makes sense to teach them in a way that they will be using. In my classroom, I hope to use the resources I discovered relating to this standard to facilitate the creation of online media as well as use online resources to create stories and discover world issues. One idea I had was to use freerice, a website mentioned in the Vialogues for this week (or something similar) as a way for students to spend free time practicing various subjects, but also using it as a way to generate interest in world hunger. This could lead to a year-long service project in which my class conducts research on hunger issues in the world and locally, and uses the information to come up with a project where students could volunteer time to raise funds or send resources. In this way, students are generating possible solutions for authentic problems while using technology to research these issues, and are promoting positive values of citizenry.

Marshall, J. (2015, January 12). ISTE standard 1. [Comment 2 on Welsh, M.] Message posted to: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/111058430962704146204

Thibault, K. (2015, January 9). ISTE standard 1. Message posted to: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/111058430962704146204

Robin, B. (2015). Digital storytelling: A powerful technology tool for the 21st century classroom. Theory into practice, 47:220-228.

ISTE (2015). ISTE standards: Teachers. Retrieved from: http://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs/20-14_ISTE_Standards-T_PDF.pdf